I can remember a time when I told people that we always started our clients off with an SEO audit and got this wide-eyed, surprised stare. And you know, I have to confess, although we’ve always said that we don’t do cookie cutter campaigns, that is one thing that is set in stone. If we’re going to do any work on your site, there are very few instances that the Request for Proposal doesn’t include an SEO audit.
Funny thing. I was at Pubcon last week and kept running into industry people – some of them being the same ones that gave me that stare. You know what they said? “I won’t even look at a client without an audit.” Um. Hello… we’ve been saying that for YEARS!
Why is an audit so important? Why do we hold it so high up on the campaign food chain? Let’s take an in depth look.
What Happens During a Website Audit?
A website audit is just like a mechanic checking the condition of your vehicle, or seeing your doctor twice a year for a full checkup. A website audit is critical because it can help identify any weaknesses that prevent customers from accessing your products and services. We would like to believe that you are in business to remain in business. Consider the following reasons why your website needs an audit.
Hidden Technical Issues
Your website may have hidden technical issues. A healthy website is one in which search engines can crawl the site with ease. Technical SEO is all about building a solid foundation for your website:
- 404 errors along with 301 and 302 redirects should be minimal or non-existent on a website. Re-directs, even if they are minimal, can slow down the user-experience. A website audit can identify and fix these errors.
- Site architecture and your website’s URL structure should be on par. Users should be able to easily navigate your site. Opt for a dynamic sitemap with correct use of robots.txt files and rel=noindex tags.
On-Page Website Issues
On-page SEO is the low-hanging fruit that should be easy to fix:
- An audit will make sure that your meta titles and descriptions are the proper length with the right keywords.
- Are your headers relevant and captivating enough? These are like major headlines in a newspaper. Your headers should also contain relevant keywords.
- Content, as they say, will always be king. It should also contain keywords that relate to your products and services. Write content in such a way that it appears natural and easy to read. An audit will also make sure there is no keyword stuffing.
- Internal linking can help users navigate the website. Internal links connect content while giving Google a good idea of your website’s structure. Internal links can also establish site hierarchy where you can give important pages the most link value.
An Audit Helps to Spy on the Competition
You will always need to know what the competition is up to. It is one thing to properly identify your competition, and another to know what they are doing to remain competitive. A solid SEO audit can help you identify your competitors, scope their strategies, and come up with a better plan. We recommend the following tools for performing website audits: Screaming Frog, SEMRush, MOZ, and DeepCrawl, among others.
An Audit Helps Identify Backlinks
Backlinks will always be a major element of Google’s algorithm. Other, relevant, websites linking to your site gives your site more rank juice. Spammy links to your site can hurt its ranking. An audit can reveal the following:
- The number of backlinks to your site.
- Whether your backlinks are legit or spammy.
- How many backlinks your competitor’s website owns compared to your site.
An Audit Can Help You Build an Effective Content Strategy
A content strategy is the method used to plan your content creation, delivery, and optimization. The goal is to achieve the best UX. Content can be on-page, blog posts, webinars, videos, or emails. The content strategy can also include writing content for other sites that will link back to your site.
Whatever the strategy, Google and other major search engines always reward fresh content. A content audit can also tell you how long users remain on a page, if the content found its way to others, what people are talking about, and the level and nature of comments. An audit can reveal if your content makes sense. Call-to-actions, strong ones, can convert subscribers and customers.
Most marketers and website owners are too busy with watching their bottom line to conduct proper website audits. This is why it is important to work with the professionals who live, eat, and breathe SEO. We’re the professionals who monitor and stay up on the trends. A comprehensive website audit can help take your site to its next level of success.